Things You Can Do

By Ninnik Nishukan

The first thing she notices when she wakes up is that she can't move her hands.

This is because they're tied up.

The rope is rough and cheap and chafes her skin, rubs it raw as she experimentally tries to wriggle her hands free.

A quick glance downstairs tells her that she's wearing all of her clothes. It would appear as if she has not been violated.


As she starts to scope out the room, she discovers it's somebody's basement. Not a dank, cold, scary place, just somebody's family basement, stuffed full of boxes of old clothes and toys that nobody's using anymore, a workbench, a couple of bikes; in the corner, an old Christmas tree stand sits forlornly next to the washer and dryer, and next to her—

She experiences a sinking feeling, her stomach dropping and her chest constricting.

Kuno-chan, out cold, his head lolling bonelessly to one side, is tied up to the wooden beam next to hers. Unlike her, he's gagged, and she can tell by that and the fact that he's got a lot more ropes on him than her that he's put up a lot more resistance and has had to be subdued.

It's not surprising, really. Kuno-chan's has had a lot more practice than her at getting knocked out, and so he's better at shaking it off. She's taken him to the nurse's office enough times to know.

She doesn't like the discolouration around his eye and the way there's drying blood around his wrists. He's obviously tried to get free of the ropes, too. And then he got a black eye for his troubles.

It's always brought her a combination of amusement and exasperation before, when she's seen him flat on his back after a fight, his eyes all but rolling in his skull and his mouth slack with unconsciousness, but now it's not funny at all—

"You're awake."

She looks up, and doesn't quite know what to say. She doesn't really know what she expected of her captor, but it certainly wasn't this.

It's just a student, her own age and still in his school uniform; she remembers having seen him around at school sometimes, but that's it. They have no connection whatsoever, and she's sure Kuno-chan doesn't know him, either. He's not on the kendo team, that's for sure.

His name turns out to be Makoto, and she comes to know this because Makoto likes to talk.

And talk and talk and talk…

Nabiki says nothing, simply waiting as she tries to figure out the situation.

It appears he wants to attain Kuno's money, and he could've probably done this in a way that didn't involve physical pain, but it seems that little Makoto is into that kind of thing.

At least when it's happening to other people.

What he wants with her, though, she doesn't quite know. She doesn't want to know. She half-heartedly hopes it's nothing but the fact that she simply happened to be in Kuno-chan's company when Makoto decided to strike, but she's not stupid.

She watches him carefully as he walks around the basement, gesturing as he talks about himself and as he prepares a small wooden table of disconcertingly sharp objects beside Kuno-chan.

The boy isn't hideously disfigured. In fact, he isn't even ordinarily ugly or short or fat or any of those other cliché things that always gives birth to and cultivates a festering inferiority complex in killers in the movies, giving them their raison d'être.

Hell, if the boy wasn't a creepy little kid who had a habit of abducting his fellow students, he'd have a pretty good shot at getting a girlfriend. He's not the kind of boy you'd look twice at in the street, maybe, but he's got a nice face and he looks to be in good shape…so why the hell is he doing this?

Nabiki has never seen him be bullied at school or frozen out by his classmates, either, so why?

Must be the thing with the evil parents or something, then. Probably he was locked in the attic when he was a kid. Or maybe he's one of those kids who used to be horribly bullied when they were little and then looked to be adjusting well later, but were really hanging on by a very thin thread, just waiting to snap.

What she realizes then is that she suddenly isn't scared anymore. She's simply angry. How dares he?

And he's such a little fucking amateur, too, it's almost an insult! He hasn't even tied her legs together, for goodness sake! If he comes over to her— and he doesn't even have to get that close— she's got the ability to kick him so hard he can forget about ever having any grandchildren. Doesn't he know that?

Doesn't he know she lives at a dojo? Doesn't he know she used to practice martial arts when she was a kid? Sure, she's a little rusty— make that a lot rusty— but doesn't he know that she does leg exercises as good as every day? Doesn't he know that she plays tennis and goes to the gym? How else does he think she stays in such marvellously good shape despite her deadly sweet tooth?

Doesn't he know that if he as much as tried to hike her skirt up, she'd knee him in the groin so hard he'd feel the pain up to the tips of his hair? Or if he'd prefer it, she could deliver a nice kick to a very painful spot on his calf or a knee to a part of his thigh muscle that would all but cripple him.

Does he really think she's stupid enough to do the business dealings she does without learning to protect herself? Doesn't he think she's taken any self-defence classes?

But he doesn't come near her, so she doesn't get a chance to put her legs to good use. If he's planning to rape her at all, he's putting it off. Because it seems he needs an audience for his sick little fun and games.

He puts every sharp object he comes across in the basement on his table of toys, all the while talking to himself and his audience, but mainly himself.

Screwdriver? Sure. Hammer? Why not? Hack saw? Might be fun.

On the pile it goes.

As he talks and talks and talks, she comes to understand that he really doesn't have evil parents or a tragic childhood. He just seems to lack a basic understanding of right and wrong, and any ability to sympathize with other people. He seems like he thinks certain things doesn't apply to him. He seems like he's not connected to the world around him at all, like he thinks other people are just there for him to experiment on and play with.

All in all, he's a full-blown, garden variety psychopath, the kind that seems normal but turns out to have no empathy but does possess an exceptionally skewed way of looking at life. The kind she's seen in the thrillers and read about in cheesy, glossy magazines while waiting in the dentist's office.

If she tried to explain to him that what he was doing was wrong, he probably wouldn't even understand the concept of 'wrong'.

He wants to have Kuno Tatewaki's money, and so he's going to hurt him until he gets it. It's all logical to Makoto. Even if he seems to completely misunderstand the concept of this sort of blackmail. You're supposed to make demands, and then hurt the person if they refuse to cooperate. You're not supposed to hurt someone anyway just for the heck of it.

Nabiki tries to tell Makoto that she is sure that Kuno-chan would give him all the money he could possibly want if he'd only promise he'd let them go, but it almost seems as if he's not even intending to ask for the money before he's tortured him a little first.

Oh, the things he's planning to do to Kuno-chan…

Screaming for help probably wouldn't be very wise. She really doesn't want to provoke the guy with the sharp, pointy objects any further.

Nabiki hears a deep groan as Tatewaki comes around again, coughing a bit. In the look they exchange, Nabiki sees the confusion and then the pure fear and panic as Tatewaki remembers where he is and what is going on, and she swallows.

"Kuno-chan—" Her voice is so small and apologetic because she knows she can offer him no escape from the horrible situation, and she sees him open his mouth to answer, a miserable expression on his face, before Makoto steps between them, grinning at her.

"Are you watching?" He asks expectantly.

She nods weakly.

Pleased, he raises the hammer.

She sees Kuno's expression turn to absolute horror a split second before the hammer descends.

And so, with a series sickeningly wet cracks and splats intermingled with screams of agonyMakoto calmly breaks Tatewaki's proud, straight, long nose into a pulpy mess of skin, gristle, blood and bones. Lucky for Kuno-chan, the pain quickly becomes so great that he passes out again.

Nobody would want to be awake for something like that.

"I've always wanted to know what the inside of a human head looks like," he says in this detached, theoretical kind of way, as if talking to himself about the weather, and as he selects the hack saw from the small work table, she realizes she's screaming; almost, but not quite drowning out the sound of metal carving into a human scalp and skull.

It looks like Makoto, too caught up in his fun, has forgotten that Kuno Tatewaki would actually have to be alive for him to provide Makoto with his money.

Screaming, Nabiki wakes up from her nap on the porch with such force that she almost tumbles right off of it into the garden, scraping her knee as she clings to the wooden floorboards.

Her breath is coming out in ragged gasps as she rolls more fully onto the porch, lying stiffly on her back, feeling like she's just survived a long drop from a cliff. She's sweaty and overheated, and realizes she must've fallen asleep right in the sun.

What a silly thing to do.

It could give you nightmares, she thinks, laughing a bit brokenly as she drags herself up on her knees, ignoring the worried looks of her family.

And she's crying, of all things. Really, how embarrassing…

Somewhere in her dazed mind, she registers that the door bell just rang. Cradling her face in her hands, she gives a shuddering sigh; she needs to pull herself together, they've got company now—

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Ranma, currently in his girl form, shuffling around her to get the door, his movements quick and jittery, as if he's afraid she'll reach out to grab his pant leg to yell at him or something—

She hears the door open as she smoothes down her hair and pats her wet eyes with the back of her sweater sleeve.

"Ah! Pig-tailed girl! Just the person I wished to meet! How I have longed for—"

Rushing forward, Nabiki pushes Ranma aside; behind her, she hears him landing on his ass on the wooden floor with a hard thump, yelping in protest.

She hears Tatewaki snapping for breath, shocked and outraged. "Tendo Nabiki, why did you push aside the fair—"

"Kuno-chan…" Her voice is so soft and odd that it gives even Kuno Tatewaki pause in one of his indignant speeches, which can usually only be stopped by a well-placed kick in the face by Ranma or a strategic elbow by Akane.

He stares at her, startled by her red-rimmed, bright eyes, opens his mouth to ask what in the world is going on when she reaches out to squeeze his arm right above his wrist, her fingers sliding against his bare skin.

He's warm and solid and has an armful of roses instead of a horribly mangled face or even a missing brain—

Well, not literally, anyway, she thinks, smirking just a little to herself—

—and she sighs as she drops his arm and turns back to her family.

"I need coffee," she says quietly.

Kasumi clears her throat. "There's a fresh pot in the kitchen," she offers hesitantly.

Nabiki shakes her head. "I'm going out," she tells them, slipping into her shoes and checking her pocket for keys and money and grabbing her camera from the dresser in the genkan.

Tatewaki, like her family, gapes after her when she stops by the door. Spinning on her heel, she grabs his baggy sleeve and tugs, motioning him to follow.

"C'mon," she says, tapping her camera meaningfully with a finger. "I've got some new pictures that need to be developed."

"But—"He protests, still spun.

She sends him a particularly impatient look, and he blinks, taken aback.

"Uh…" Coming to a snap decision, he tosses the bouquet of roses to Ranma, and with a backward glance at his pig-tailed girl, still sitting on the floor in shock, he follows Nabiki uncertainly, confused but too curious not to do as she says.

Nabiki can feel that her heart rate is finally starting to slow down as she listens to the synchronized sound of their steps and lets the fresh air cool down her hot, slightly moist cheeks. When they make their way towards the nearest coffee shop, she feels tired but relieved as she catches his befuddled expression.

He will probably be asking a lot of annoying questions, but at least he's alive.

Author's note: This has kind of a Baby Borderline feel to it, only maybe less confusing. It's just a one-shot experiment, really. I guess I wanted to write something slightly darker.
Don't ask me about the title, I just chose one at random. It's the name of a song by TV on the Radio.